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In this issue:
Colloquium - What the Eye Tells the Brain: From High Energy Physics to Neural Systems
Alpine Gate to Temporarily Close
20/30/40 Year Service Awards
Owl Hatchlings Growing on End Station B

SLAC Today

Friday - March 24, 2006

The LCLS tunnel
(Click on image for larger version)


The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is playing a significant role in developing and building the LCLS. In particular, they are working on the x-ray beamline that will carry the world's first hard x-ray electron free laser to scientists' workstations.

"There is more to this than just making a 200-meter long tunnel," said Richard Bionta, who is in charge of LCLS X-Ray Transport, Optics, and Diagnostics at LLNL. It is slated to house delicate equipment that is used to focus, bend and measure the x-ray beam.

"Because no one has ever built a free electron laser like this before, we make heavy use of simulation to design instrumentation," said Bionta.

He estimates that since the fall of last year, LLNL has had more than 20 people working on the LCLS beamline, including physicists, mathematicians, engineers and safety experts.

Alpine Gate to Temporarily Close

The Alpine Gate Drainage and Road Improvement Project will commence next week. The road work will require the closure of the Alpine Gate for approximately four weeks, beginning Monday, March 27. The gate will be closed beginning on that day and is expected to continue until April 28th.

We are hoping that weather conditions will be favorable for the construction efforts. The closure may be longer if work stoppage should occur.

Colloquium Monday

Processing Visual Images: What the Eye Tells the Brain

(Image - Processing Visual Images)

The back of the eye is lined by an extraordinary biological pixel detector, the retina. This neural network is able to extract vital information about the external visual world, and transmit this information in a timely manner to the brain.

In this talk, Alan Litke will describe a system that has been implemented to study how the retina processes and encodes dynamic visual images. Based on techniques and expertise acquired in the development of silicon microstrip detectors for high energy physics experiments, this system can simultaneously record the extracellular electrical activity of hundreds of retinal output neurons.

After presenting first results obtained with this system, Professor Litke will describe additional applications of this incredible technology.

Alan is on the faculty of the Santa Cruz Institute for Particle Physics and Physics Department at the University of California at Santa Cruz.

The colloquium will take place at 4:15 p.m. on Monday, March 27 in Panofsky Auditorium. All are invited to attend.

Learn more...

Employees Recognized for Years of Service

Last Tuesday, 38 employees were recognized for their years of work at SLAC.  Congratulations to these employees!  More photos...

(Image - 20 year employees)
Twenty year veterans
(click on image for larger version and list of names)

(Image - Thirty year employees)
Thirty year veterans
(click on image for larger version and list of names)

(Image - Forty year employees)
Forty year veterans
(click on image for larger version and list of names)

Our BaBar BuBos

(Image - owls)

Photo by Diana Rogers
(Click on image for larger version)

By the BaBar facility, a small family of Bubo virginianus has moved in. Better known as Great Horned Owls, the mated pair built a nest last January about 50 to 60 feet off the ground on End Station B.

SLAC Naturalist Kirk Stoddard learned about the nesting owls from a chain of people saying "did you see..." Stoddard said that when he went to check on the owls, a few engineers in the area were looking through the binoculars and saying, "I think that's a cat on the ledge."

Great Horned Owls are distinct in the owl family for their pointed tufted ears, which make them look very much like a cat in silhouette. When the female is nesting, she lays down flat with just her head sticking up, which accentuates the similarities. Read more...

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